There is no exact definition for the word literacy. Instead, we look at how people use literacy, which depends on what people do in their life and what they are exposed to.“Literacy is a many-meaninged thing.” -Sylvia Scribner
My Research Question How does background and upbringings affect a person’s future view and use of literacy?
I USED THE FOLLOWING SCRIPT:When and where were you born?How do you define literacy?What are some examples of your daily use of literacy?What are your earliest memories of self writing/reading?As a child, were you forced to read or did you do it for fun?What writing/reading resources were available to you as a child?Did your parents prefer that you read certain books (e.i. religious books)?What kind of materials did you have available for school-based assignments?Did your parents encourage you to do your best in school?Do you think your childhood experiences affected your use/view of literacy today?
BEFORE STARTING EACH INTERVIEW, IGAVE EACH INTERVIEWEE A COPY OFMY INFORMED CONSENT FORM FOR THEM TO READ AND SIGN, AS I DID NOT WANT TO VIOLATE ANYONE’S RIGHTS
•Jaz camefromPunjab, India•She joined Greenville HighSchool in 2008
―I define literacy as the ability to read and write ones own language or languages.‖ This was very much expected, as I used to think the same thing before this class
―Asa child, my parents made me read books. Then, I went to school and read the books that the school assigned.‖
―Yes,they always expected me to do my best in school. They still do.‖
―Everyday in everything I do whether its just talking to a friend or participating in a class discussion.‖
―Yes, it definitely does. As a child, I had the opportunity to go to school and gain an education which made me capable of making decisions regarding my further education.‖Barton and Hamilton tell us that literacy practices are“culturally structured” and “have their roots into the past(30).
What do you think of the wordliteracy?―Well, it means reading and writing, of course.‖ Once again, the answer was what Szwed said many people thought it was: “Literacy has typically been viewed as a yes-and-no matter, easily determined: either one reads and writes or one doesn’t (Szwed 5).”
What are your earliest memoriesof self reading/writing? ―I first started to read and write when I started school at the age of 6. Before that, I did not know how to how to read and write. My mother did not want to send me to school because my father was sick and she wanted me to stay home and help her.‖“The necessity for literacy skills in daily life is obvious; on the job, ridingaround town, shopping for groceries, we all encounter situationsrequiring us to read or produce written symbols.” ~Sylvia Scribner (37)
Did your parents encourage you towork hard in school? ―My mother would tell me to try to do my best in school, but furthering my education was not one of her plans because we had not money. My dream was to become a singer. Since my mother did not have enough money, I had to go to Mexico City to work; I could not pursue my dream.‖
Today… My mom prefers to communicate by phone calls, or face-to-face She is not one to text message or email This could be because she did not use text so much when she was little, therefore text did not really become a part of her literacy.
―When I was little, I remember that my mom would always read children’s stories to me. I went to a bilingual school in Colombia, and there we would play board games and were assigned little projects.‖
―Oh yes. My mom was a teacher and shewould always make me read. I felt a bitpressured because she wanted me to be thebest student.‖
―Yes, since my mom always made me readand wanted the best for me …I guess itpushed me to work harder as I got older.That’s also one of the reasons I came tocollege.‖
ME!I decided to include my story in this research.
EARLIEST MEMORIES OF LITERACY My parents always made me read little books when I was little; they would sit down with me to read. My dad subscribed to a children’s book company, so books were delivered to my house once a month.
WAS I FORCED TO READ? Like all children, all l wanted to do was go outside and play. However, my parents would make me sit and read. They would tell me that playing outside was not going to get me anywhere in life.
MY PARENTS ALWAYS ENCOURAGED ME TO DOMY BEST My parents always expected me to be the best student in my class. When l was in grade school, they told me that an 80 on an assignment was not good enough—they wanted a 100
DO YOU THINK YOUR CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCESAFFECTED YOUR USE/VIEW OF LITERACY TODAY? Definitely If my parents had not pushed me to do my best as a child, I would probably not even be in college today. I am currently a Biology pre-med student, and hope to one day go to medical school.
Results• I found that parental encouragement plays the biggest role in influencing a person’s future use of literacy.• Parents act as literacy sponsors.• Location is the 2nd factor that shapes a person’s literacy According to Deborah Brandt, literacy sponsors, who were agents that either supported or discouraged literacy depending on how the use of literacy affected them, had a big impact on the development of literacy learning and skills over the years (56).
Parental Encouragement• Lina & Jaz, are both in college because their parents encouraged them to pursue a higher education. • Lina is a Political Science major and hopes to represent the U.S. as an ambassador. • Jaz is a pre-med student, and hopes to attend medical school so that she can become a physician.• My mom wanted to further her education, but her mother made her work instead of encouraging her to follow her dreams.
Location• Lina and Jaz were able to study here in the U.S., where academics are pushed.• My mom grew up in a small community in Mexico, where academics were not so important. – Her community did not financial help, such as scholarships – There were not enough resources available“Literacy practices are patterned by “Today, functional literacy is conceivedsocial institutions and power broadly as the level of proficiencyrelationships, and some literacies are necessary for effective performance in amore dominant, visible and influential range of settings and customarythan others.” activities.” -Barton and Hamilton (22) -Sylvia Scribner (37)
Problems & Future Research• Unfortunately, my research had to come to a stop because of time limits.• If I would have been allowed more time to conduct this research, I would have studied other factors that affect an individual’s view of literacy.
Conclusion• From my research, I have learned that a persons activities as a young child and encouragement from his or her parents is what helps shape his or her literacy.• I realized that the people interviewed only followed their goals if their parents encouraged them to pursue them.• The activities they did as young children and the place in which they grew also influenced how each of them views literacy today.
ReferencesBarton, David, and Mary Hamilton. “Literacy Practices.” Ethnographic Inquiries in Writing. 1st ed. Ed. Tabetha Adkins. Southlake, Texas: Fountainhead, 2010. 21-32. Print.Brandt, Deborah. “Literacy Opportunity and Economic Change.” Ethnographic Inquiries in Writing. 1st ed. Ed. Tabetha Adkins. Southlake, Texas: Fountainhead, 2010. 54-85. Print.Keur, Jaz. Personal Interview. 15 Oct. 2011.Munevar, Lina. Personal Interview. 4 Nov. 2011.Ramos, Maria. Personal Interview. 12 Nov. 2011.Scribner, Sylvia. “Literacy in Three Metaphors.” Ethnographic Inquiries in Writing. 1st ed. Ed. Tabetha Adkins. Southlake, Texas: Fountainhead, 2010. 33-53. Print.Szwed, John F. “The Ethnography of Literacy.” Ethnographic Inquiries in Writing. 1st ed. Ed. Tabetha Adkins. Southlake, Texas: Fountainhead, 2010. 3-18. Print.